Bangkok is one of my favorite cities and I wish I could stay here for a few months straight without having to do visa runs.
If you have a U.S. passport and entering Thailand by air, you'll automatically get a 30-day visa on arrival as a tourist. If arriving by land, you get 15 days.
As a digital nomad, I like to stay in my favorite cities for a few months at a time throughout the year. Unfortunately, since Thailand only allows 30 days at a time visa-free, it's a little bit more of a hassle. You can of course apply for a 60-day tourist visa before you enter the country, but that could be quite a bit of work. I actually did a visa run in Vientiane, Laos back in 2013 and that took like 3 days.
Luckily, since August 2014, Thailand has allowed an extension of 30 days while in the country, as opposed to only 7 days before that. You can do all these in 1 day for 1,900 baht, which is totally worth it to avoid the hassle of flying to another country and coming back.
I just did this last week so this info is up-to-date as of December 2017.
Where do you go?
Government Complex, Immigration Division 1 (2nd floor), Bangkok
How to get there?
Here's what I personally did, there are of course other options.
- Take the BTS to Mo Chit station.
- Called an Uber to take me to the Government Complex. Cost: around 120 baht.
There are buses that go there as well and there's a bus station/stop near the Government Complex (I think the bus station/stop is actually called "Government Complex"), within 10-15 minutes walking distance to the immigration building.
On my way back, I actually just walked to the bus station and took Bus #166 which goes to Victory Monument (last stop). I actually didn't even have to walk all the way down there as it stops right in front of the immigration building. Fare was 8.50 baht. Other buses I've seen parked in the station are #66 and #59. There was a sign for #505 as well which stops at Central World.
What to bring?
- Passport and departure card
- 1,900 baht (doesn't have to be exact, they'll give you change)
- Passport-sized photo (optional, you can get it at the immigration office)
- Photocopy of your main passport page, the page with the entry stamp, and the departure card (optional, you can get photocopies in the immigration office)
So technically, all you really need is your passport, departure card, and the money. The rest you can get done directly at the office.
What to expect?
I got to the office around 2pm and the place was busy. I went to the counter and told the lady that I wanted to extend my 30 days visa-exempt status. She gave me a form called "Application for Extension of Temporary Stay in the Kingdom TM. 7."
It's important that you get the right form or you might have to start over after waiting for hours. I believe that if you already have a 60-day tourist visa that you got before entering Thailand, you'll need to fill out a different form for it for the extension.
Once I got the form, I filled it out and went downstairs at the photocopy shop. I just gave them my passport and departure card and they knew what to do: one photocopy for the main page of the passport, and another photocopy for the stamped page and the departure card. Cost: 4 baht for 2 pages. They even have glue you can use for free so you can attach your photo to the application.
I already have passport photos so I'm not sure where it is in the building exactly but my guess is it will be downstairs as well.
I then went back to the Division 1 office and went straight down to the next room where you can get a ticket with your number in the queue. I got a number of K172, with 55 people waiting in front of me.
The "K" letters have 3 counters and it was taking a while. I got my ticket around 2:30pm and didn't get my turn until around 4pm. When I realized it was gonna be slow, I went back downstairs to get something to eat to pass the time.
Once my number finally got called, it was a fairly quick interview. They'll ask for your address in Thailand, phone number, have you sign the photocopies, and hand over the money. After that, you'll be asked to step out and wait for them to process the application.
This took another 30 minutes and they just call you by name when ready. You'll get another stamp on the passport with the new date you need to leave Thailand and the receipt for the payment with your change stapled if you didn't give them the exact amount.
Overall, I found the process quite efficient and it would've been a lot faster if there weren't too many people waiting. I went on a Wednesday afternoon, I'm guessing if you go really early right when they open you can probably get in and out within an hour.